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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Jordanian official re-opens the "Jordanian option" for Palestinian Arabs?

From JPost:
More than two decades after former Jordanian king Hussein renounced his country's claim to the West Bank, a Jordanian official referred on Tuesday to a unified Jordanian state on both sides of the Jordan river at a ceremony presided over by Jordanian King Abdullah and attended by more than a thousand guests and dignitaries, according to a Wednesday report by al-Quds al-Arabi.

Taher al-Masri, head of the Jordanian Senate, spoke at a ceremony commemorating the country's independence day and reportedly referred to the emergence of a "union" on both banks of the "holy Jordan river" - though apparently not a political one.

Instead, he was quoted as hailing pan-Arab and pan-Islamic unity and speaking out against the "isolationism" that led to the cultivation of separate cultural identities on each side of the river.

Nearly half the Jordan's 6 million people are of Palestinian origin, and Jordan fears that if Palestinians become the majority, it will disrupt the delicate demographic balance.

Abdullah's father Hussein renounced Jordan's claim to the territory in 1998, and al-Masri's comments mark the first reference by a high-ranking Jordanian official to the issue since then.
The Al Quds al Arabi article is here. The semi-official Jordan Times mentioned the speech but said nothing about the west bank of the Jordan; on the contrary, Masri is quoted as saying that "Jordanians will continue to protect the Kingdom’s independence and maximise Jordan’s achievements because they believe in their national unity as the first guarantee for building a stronger Jordan," in the words of that newspaper. Al Quds also quoted him as saying that he supported "the Kingdom of Jordan for the Jordanians, and Palestinians to Palestine, the honorable Arabs for Arabs, and the Muslims to Islam."

Jordan has been especially sensitive to any hints of a Jordanian state on the West Bank. So it appears to me that Masri was just giving lip service to Arab unity, just as virtually all Arab constitutions make reference to being part of "the Arab nation."

Of course, for people who truly desire peace in the region, the idea of incorporating Arab Palestine into Jordan and scuttling the idea of an independent Palestinian Arab state would do more for real peace than any conceivable peace treaty that the PA signs. Jordan has proven that it can act responsibly, more than half of Jordanians are of Palestinian origin, they share the same culture and most of the Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank are already Jordanian citizens.

This assumes that real peace - in the sense of an environment where citizens can grow and prosper without worrying about war - is the Arab goal. But it isn't.

More proof of this comes from Secretary of the Executive Committee of the PLO, Yasser Abed Rabbo, who today said that Netanyahu's idea of an economic peace "mere gossip" and is not true peace. To him, the only real peace is an independent state that includes Jerusalem. It is instructive that he didn't say that economic peace could be a first step, or a pre-requisite, or a welcome step in the right direction that could help his people - he derided the very idea of helping out his fellow PalArabs economically, without asking their opinion.

That is what a Palestinian Arab state would be like - a set of leaders who care nothing for their own people and only to score politically and, eventually, militarily against Israel. An entire nation based on the negation of another. A country that uses its people as pawns and treats them with utter disregard.

Jordan would be a much better alternative for Israelis and for Palestinians. (It would be a bit dicier for Jordanians, who understand the psyche of Palestinian Arab leaders all too well.)  Too bad that the world has accepted the lie that peace is somehow dependent on the position of borders and the capital of a mythical nation.